Busan, magnet for MICE industry

By Korea Herald
  • Published : Dec 4, 2016 - 16:54
  • Updated : Dec 4, 2016 - 18:36
BUSAN -- Korea’s second-largest city and a major maritime hub, Busan is harnessing its capacities for meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions, known as the MICE industry.

Scores of convention centers, hotels, tourism attractions and cruise terminals are being built or renewed to make way for Asia’s top commercial port with 2020 in sight.

Strewn with mesmeric beaches, cultural amenities, efficient infrastructure and telecommunications lines, Busan has all the ingredients necessary to attract businesspeople, intent on wheeling and dealing under an enticing environment, according to Busan Tourism Organization. 

A nighttime view of Haeundae Beach in Busan (Busan Tourism Organization)

Over 10 million Korean and 2 million foreign tourists visit Busan each year. The Haeundae and Gwangalli beach areas have “10-minute convention zones” that combine tourism, business and accommodations.

“As Korea’s second-largest city of 3.6 million people, Busan has competitive public transportation, road networks, high-speed internet and accommodation facilities,” an organization representative told The Kore Herald. “When ongoing projects are completed by 2020, Busan will have globally competitive MICE infrastructures.”

The average spending per MICE-related visitor exceeds that of general tourists, research shows. The industry also boosts employment and promotes the city and country. Leading economies of the US, Europe, Singapore, China and Japan have recognized its potential, and implemented strategies to nurture the MICE ecosystem.

According to the Union of International Associations, Busan is Asia’s fifth and the world’s 10th top-ranked city for hosting global conferences. It has hosted the International Convention and Congress Annual Conference 2003, Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit 2005, International Telecommunication Union Plenipotentiary Conference 2014 and Inter-American Development Bank Annual Conference 2015, among others. 

Busan Port International Passenger Terminal, located in the city’s west, has a convention center covering 8,000 square meters, which is expected to be a counterweight to MICE facilities in the east near Haeundae Beach. (Busan Tourism Organization)

The city arranged 12 medium and large corporate incentive tours this year, including a package for All Japan Mutual Aid Association – Japan’s largest wedding and funeral operator -- that brought some 10,000 of its employees to the city in August.

The Busan Exhibition and Convention Center covers over 50,000 square meters, with an auditorium that can seat more than 4,000 people.

Furthermore, Busan Port International Passenger Terminal has opened a convention center covering 8,000 square meters. Located in the city’s west, the facility is expected to be a counterweight to MICE facilities in the east near Haeundae Beach.

The city offers over 100 festivals year-round, including Asia’s biggest film fest -- Busan International Film Festival. This year’s Busan One Asia Festival combined BIFF and the Busan Fireworks Festival with large-scale Hallyu performances.

Busan offers over 100 festivals year-round, including Asia’s biggest film fest -- Busan International Film Festival. (Busan Tourism Organization)

Various top-class accommodation facilities, including the Hilton Hotel, Ananti Penthouse, Lotte Hotel and Segasami Hotel, will open next year, further adding to the 66,000 rooms in the city. Below the five-star threshold, business hotels including Holiday Inn, Shilla Stay and Kent Hotel will also be constructed.

Busan, which has the world’s third-largest cargo shipping capacity, also has two cruise terminals that harbor over 200 cruise ships annually. With the estimated completion of Busan North Port Redevelopment project in 2020, the northern wharf will encompass cruise docks, a passenger harbor, opera house and convention centers.

Gimhae International Airport has been refurbished and expanded to meet growing demand. By the time the second stage of enlargement is finished in 2026, it is expected to accommodate over 38 million passengers annually.

By Joel Lee (